I’m a big fan of journals. It’s not just the creative life they document, but our goals, inspirations, and dreams they keep safe. Writing things down is a way to organize thoughts, and they say that those who write down goals are more likely to achieve them. Yet not all journals are about functionality. Some are just about personal exploration and for that, my journaling guru is artist, traveler and free spirit, Peter Beard.
In this photo (taken in Africa maybe in the seventies), here he is working on one of his many expressive diaries that have since gone on to become collectible art.
Beard was an inspiration to me as a child and still is to this day. I admire his passion for Africa and its diminishing wildlife, his artistic eye — that camp tent is camera ready — and his being in the right place at the right time — he likes to say he discovered Iman, much to her amusement. And boy, could he could rock a sarong and denim shirt!
Exotic locales, animals and even people were his milieu. But those things aren’t necessary for you and me to live a big, creative life. Because our creative spirit isn’t AROUND us, it’s IN us. In Letters to a Young Poet, R.M. Rilke wrote, “Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to the question of whether you must create.”
Peter Beard had to create. His diaries document a wild and beautiful mind and life. They were made decades ago so I hope that I’ve been able to either refresh your memory of them, or introduce you to him. I hope his very personal work inspires you to discover your own visual language. To quote another genius … George Orwell said, “Cliched language produces cliched thinking.” The same is true with visual thinking. Look beyond what others are doing. Comparison is the death of imagination.
Sit. Think. Be.
Find the exotic, wild and beautiful that is within you and express your joy or heartbreak without caring who sees it, or worrying if it fits your “brand.”
Live. Love. Fail.
Test yourself. It’s the only way you will discover, embrace and rejoice in the layers of who you are.